Movie Captioning


Agreement on Joint Recommendations for Movie Captioning Rules Announced by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Groups and Theater Owners


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell), in collaboration with other organizations representing consumers with hearing loss and movie theater owners, announced an historic agreement to file joint recommendations on rulemaking for movie theater access.

In response to a U.S. Department of Justice Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) the organizations filed Joint Recommendations to U.S. Department of Justice on Movie Captioning and Audio Description. The comments were filed by the following organizations: AG Bell, Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO). 

MovieCaptioningIn addition to these joint recommendations, AG Bell also filed comments in collaboration with the Hearing Loss Association of America which further clarified the association’s recommendations.

Following several weeks of discussions, the five organizations agreed on a set of recommendations, including:

  • Closed captioning (CC) and audio description (AD) technologies are to be installed in all digital movie theater auditoriums nationwide.
  • The joint plan establishes certain minimum closed captioning device requirements with a monitoring requirement.  This flexible, market-responsive device scoping method will ensure access for all deaf and hard of hearing patrons and respond to actual consumer demand.
  • The compliance period has been restructured to reflect reasonable timelines in delivery and installation of CC and AD systems.

John Stanton, chair of AG Bell’s Public Affairs Council who represented AG Bell in the discussions, said: “Today is truly a landmark day in captioning access history. These joint recommendations are the result of decades of efforts by AG Bell and its members, as well as other hearing loss advocacy organizations, to attain captioning access in movie theaters. We have been fighting for captioning access in movie theaters ever since 1927 when the first ‘talkie’ movies were released. Simply put, to experience the ‘magic of movies,’ individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing need captioning access to the movie’s dialogue. As soon as these joint comments are effectuated, the days for consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing having to wait for a captioned movie to come out on television, video or DVD will be over.”

The movie industry and the hearing loss advocacy groups also agreed on voluntary actions to expand access to the movies, including:

  • Encouraging movie distributors to provide CC and AD data files on all movies and trailers.
  • Encouraging movie distributors to provide theaters with information on the availability of CC and AD technologies in advance of the film’s release so this information can be included in show time listings.
  • Sharing information on areas with large deaf and hard of hearing populations, including schools, and conducting specific outreach to community groups. 

"These joint recommendations bring us one step closer to turning AG Bell's envisioned future into a reality for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing and who use listening and spoken language to communicate with the world around them: a future in which our community listens, talks, thrives and enjoys the same access as everyone else in this quintessential American pastime: watching the latest movies in their community movie theater," said AG Bell CEO Emilio Alonso-Mendoza.

The recommendations were released during a joint press conference on Friday, November 21 at The National Press Club hosted by the five organizations. The press conference is available through a live captioned webcast at www.visualwebcaster.com/moviecaptioning.

About the AG Bell Association

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) helps families, health care providers and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Through advocacy, education and financial aid, AG Bell helps to ensure that every child and adult with hearing loss has the opportunity to listen, talk and thrive. With chapters located in the United States and a network of international affiliates, AG Bell supports its mission: Advancing Listening and Spoken Language for Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Visit ListeningandSpokenLanguage.org.